Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Modern Ajo

Odometer 54464

Ajo, AZ

My last two blogs were about the founding and the growth of the town of Ajo.  Today's blog is about the town Ajo is now.

The large Olympic size swimming pool built by the copper mine is now closed, and filled in- forgotten to history.

Ajo Pool   picture courtesy of Pima County
Today there is a pool owned and operated by Pima County.

Biggest drawback for us winter visitors; it's not open after Labor Day, even when the temps are still in the 70s and 80s- bummer!

Actually the pool is only part of the much larger E.S. "Bud" Walker Park, which includes a very large green space, a skate boarding park, baseball, football, soccer fields, tennis courts, and a community center building.

 There are several restaurants in Ajo.   Soon to be one more...

The Agave Grill will open soon in Ajo, AZ

The newest is not quite open yet.  There is a buzz of anticipation surrounding the opening of the newly created Agave Grill restaurant.  The story is that there will be a real chef in charge and he will be featuring Asian cuisine- we will have to let you know if this is correct, when it opens and we can sample the offerings.

Marcela's Cafe in Ajo, AZ

Ajo's staple restaurant is Marcela's Cafe.  It has been open for about 15 years now and it is the survivor of all the restaurants that have come and gone in that same time period.  Marcela's fare is a blend of  USA Diner food and authentic Mexican food.  They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  There is a nice shady patio for outside dining.

100 Estrella Restaurant and Tap Room
One Hundred Estrella (the restaurant's address) advertises the "Best Burgers in Town" and most of us would say that is exactly right.  Add to this the fact that they have beer including some craft brews on tap and you have a winning combination.  This weeks menu features two sliders with grass-fed beef, topped with pork belly bourbon jam.  The special includes a golden pile of hand-cut french fries.
The week before was seared Ahi tuna salad. The featured dessert is chocolate mosaic cake. Add a nice draft porter, and it's impossible to beat.

Ajo's Roadrunner Java

Not really a restaurant, but another anchor business for Ajo is the Roadrunner Java shop.
Open 5 days a week Friday-through Tuesday.

You can get coffee or espresso and Millie has a glass case full of cookies, pastries, and donuts baked on site each day.

The only nod to a chain store restaurant is our local Pizza Hut.

To be fair, there are other places where you can get fast food, we have convenience stores at the Chevron and Shell stations,  a new start up ice cream parlor,  a Circle K, and a deli in Olsen's IGA, but for full on restaurants this is our line-up.

Duke Energy Solar Energy Project, Ajo, AZ
Ajo is the site of a fairly large solar electric generating plant.  Thirty-eight acres of desert covered with 25,000 photovoltaic panels which track the sun from east to west.
Built in 2011, the array can produce up to 6 megawatts of electricity and is conveniently located within a half mile of the Ajo substation.

One of the advanced features of this array is that the site did not have to be graded perfectly flat before the panels were installed and linked into the mechanism that keeps them pointed at the sun as the sun sweeps from east to west.The panels use a cutting edge articulating driveline system that allows for panels to be installed on undulating terrain.  (Click here to read more)

Some residents have adopted Ajo in a big way.  Here are a few special houses that Joan and I really enjoy seeing.

This is the former Greenway mansion, now in private hands and getting an interior renovation by it's current owners.  General John Greenway, the mine manager, picked out a prominent hill above the town and close to the mine for his spacious home.

Best Desert Hideaway
Voted best fence (by us)

The Hotel Cornelia  
The Hotel Cornelia makes our list, only because we'd love to see it all fixed up.  The Hotel which was not owned by the mine, fell into disrepair and is in tough shape, but it has a wonderful charm.

Ajo is remaking itself as an art community and the evidence is everywhere;

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan


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  3. Nice blog. Very enjoyable

  4. Is there a place in Ajo to leave a car while we visit Puerto Penasco for a couple of weeks?

  5. A very enjoyable and informative post - thanks! We're heading down in a few days from the Seattle area, and I'm glad to see there's espresso in town. Your restaurant info is just what we needed, and the personal street tour is fun. Hopefully there have been some rains and we'll see a little green, though I know we're too early for spring.